Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015, has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany”: “https://amzn.to/2t1rXwh and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.” https://amzn.to/2WAcfG0
Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. Psalm 127:1 (Read at every Pre-Sanctified Liturgy) Wednesday of the Second Week of Lent
Good morning Prayer Team!
Our son loves to build things with Legos. One day, we were building a “skyscraper,” taking all of the Legos and building a tall tower. Nicholas was much younger back then and as he was building, on the lower rows of the building, he had left some empty spaces. As the building got taller and taller, it started to lean, about to collapse. He couldn’t add another brick without the whole thing toppling over. It was a perfect opportunity to teach him about what is a “foundation.”
There were two problems with his building. One was that for the height of the building, the “footprint” was too small. The base needed to be bigger. And the second problem was that on the bottom rows of the building, they needed to be solid blocks. There was a problem with the foundation. I said to Nicholas “we’re going to have to take this building down, redo the foundation and then build it back, and it will stand tall and strong.” Of course, there was no reasoning with a six year old (at the time). He didn’t want to undo his work. He kept building. And in short order, the whole building fell down. Why? Because it didn’t have a good foundation. He learned an important lesson that day, and his buildings no longer fall down. I guess, in some sense, it was good that he had that failure, because it is through failing that we learn. And also, in case he is a future engineer or architect, better to make your mistakes with Legos than with real buildings. There are plenty of buildings and bridges that fall down because the designer didn’t learn enough about foundations.
One of the Psalms read at the Pre-Sanctified Liturgy throughout Lent speaks to us about foundations. It reminds us that unless the Lord is the foundation of our life, we are building a life that will eventually collapse. Unless the Lord is protecting our lives, our souls, they will eventually be lost, because we cannot protect them by ourselves. Unless the Lord is at the center of our church community, the community can never succeed.
When the foundation of life is damaged, we don’t just keep building. We have to go back and repair the damage. When we build without the Lord, eventually our building is going to crumble.
Jesus says in Matthew 7:24-27:
Everyone then who hears these words of Mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell; and great was the fall of it.
When our life has Jesus Christ as its foundation—its source and center—then our souls will not fall or fail. When Christ is not the foundation, eventually life will crumble. Look at how society has changed, even over the past twenty-five years. Twenty-five years ago, Sundays were still a day for the family. People went to church. You could pray in public. Society has systematically worked to remove Christ from public view. Too many things compete for our attention and churches are losing members. Is there any wonder that our society continues to devolve? We’ve slowly managed to destroy its foundation—faith and family.
The good news is that if Christ is not your foundation, you can solidify your life by repairing your building and filling the holes that are empty. That might involve a slight tweak or a radical makeover. When the footprint of our life is Christ, only then can the “building” stand tall and strong. Having Christ as our “footprint” gives us the confidence to stand strong in any storm, knowing that our foundation is built on the “rock” of Christ.
You have edified me on the rock of faith. You have opened wide my mouth against my enemies; for my spirit has rejoiced in singing: “There is none Holy as our God, and there is none righteous, save You, O Lord.” (9th Ode from the Bridegroom Service of Holy Tuesday evening, Trans. by Fr. George Papadeas)
Build your life with Christ today!
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